“Why don’t you sell or work with “Insert trademarked name” crystal?”
Truth is, I’m often working with stones and crystals that, had I purchased them from a particular dealer would have been labeled with a trademarked name. We’re all probably working with trademarked stones and don’t even know it. It isn’t that I won’t work with a specific mineral because of its other name – it’s that I won’t work with a crystal based on a trademarked name and its accompanying story.
A couple years ago I visited a rock and mineral shop in Sequim, owned and operated by a gentleman who had traveled the world for 40 years, personally collecting just about every item in his store. It was a sight, let me tell you. I saw he had “Cinnabar in Quartz” for $5.00 each. Not having any Cinnabar and knowing that Cinnabar is toxic, I thought, “This would be a cool way to work with the energies of Cinnabar,” so I bought 1 one tumbled, again for just 5 bucks.
When I purchase a new-to-me stone, I come home and start researching the mineral’s properties: chemical composition, internal crystal structure, formation origin, mineral class, etc. The first thing I do is a Google Image Search to make sure that yep, I’m actually holding what I was told I was buying. (This can be tricky and not always the best way of identifying stones, but more on that at another time).
I keep scrolling and JACKPOT! There it is! Only wait a minute, these pieces – similar in weight and size – are being sold for $64 and $32. What???? How did my $5 pieces suddenly become worth $30-60?
And then I see it – the Trademarked Name.
And I’ll admit, I get a little irritated when I come across this and for a few different reasons, not least is because usually when someone applies a trademarked name to a stone, they remove any actual helpful information about the stone such as manner of formation and chemical composition. In the place of this factual, objective information (from which we then get to experience the stone individually), they sell the stone based on their personal, subjective experience. The prices for what are usually very common minerals (easy to obtain) suddenly go through the roof. People often pay more than they need to for lack of knowledge. It’s problematic on a lot of fronts.
Why do I get so bothered about these applied trademarks? There are a few issues at play.
Sometimes minerals already have multiple accepted mineralogical names from within the mineralogical community. Then there are trade names – names that aren’t necessarily trademarked but is like a nickname sometimes given because the mineralogical name is complicated. Then the new age/healing community will sometimes give minerals what I refer to as a nickname. For example, in some circles, Malachite is known as the Midwife Stone (in other circles Moss Agate is called a Midwife Stone). As you can see, the nomenclature is already confusing enough without adding another group of names to the mix.
In recent years, there are a few who have taken it upon themselves to assign yet another name – the trademark name. Oftentimes, the name hides all mineralogical information from the buyer in lieu of a story about a spiritual experience to be had.
From a purely practical perspective, with all of these names for minerals floating around, it can be difficult to ID and research crystals and stones. It was tricky before, but now with the trademarked stones, I’ve noticed it has gotten more complicated. Generally speaking, these pieces being sold under a trademarked name have descriptions that make fantastic healing claims and are labeled “high vibration” (another pet peeve of mine). There are rarely any notes given of the actual mineralogical name, let alone chemical composition, crystal system, occurrences, manner of formation, etc. Why? Well, I’m spitballing here, but if I can buy a tumbled blue onyx stone from an Etsy seller for $7, why would I buy a tumbled blue onyx stone called “Ocean’s Rapture” from another seller for $30? But if I don’t know that “Ocean’s Rapture” is actually blue onyx, I might be more willing to roll the dice for that beautiful blue mystery stone suggesting a rapturous experience.
Trademarked crystals are sold with suggestions that the stone will offer heightened mystical experiences and are often sold as having been “super activated.” The stone usually arrives with an authenticity certificate and it should be noted that, generally speaking, this certificate authenticates only that the stone in question came from a specific dealer/shop. It is not typically guaranteeing elemental makeup and of course, no one can guarantee an experience so neither is the certificate guaranteeing specific energetic qualities. Which leads us to ask, to what end?
(Clarification: the stones themselves are not trademarkable. It’s only the name that is trademarked. For example, I cannot now sell my Cinnabar in Quartz stones under the trademarked name I found online because I did not acquire them from the person who owns the trademark. Make sense? It’s like Nike can’t stop Adidas from selling running shoes, but they can stop Adidas from selling running shoes using the Nike name and symbol).
I need to be clear here about something – I don’t question that someone has had a specific experience with any stone. That’s not my place to question other people’s experiences. But it is my place to remind myself and others that one person’s experience does not guarantee another person’s experience. The prescriptive culture of healing (ironically similar to the Rx culture of traditional medicine which is often eschewed in subtle healing circles) is antithetical to everything I have learned about subtle energies and the way they interact through my personal healing experiences, study, and professional practice. I am not questioning another person’s healing or mystical experience. I am calling into question the idea that it is transferrable, buyable, or one-size-fits-all.
Let’s dig deeper – and it harm none?
There are ripple effects that I see playing out in the crystal healing community that come from this trademarking/marketing. From where I sit, the practice of assigning specific roles and a “hierarchy of specialness” to crystals is disadvantageous for a few reasons:
One – it is disempowering to people seeking their healing who work with crystals as allies. How do people come to know a thing? They get facts like mineralogical names which lead to chemical compositions, crystal systems, manner of formation – in other words, the crystal’s story – rather than only the stories of other people’s experiences (Third Eye awakening! Quick ascension! High vibration!). The facts about the crystal allows the crystal to tell its own story and those facts inform our inner wisdom and allow us to discern with nuance what energetic messages are being conveyed for us in that specific moment in time.
When we approach crystals from a prescriptive stance, it’s like going to a meet and greet with a friend whose mouth you’ve duct taped shut. You walk around introducing people to your friend, telling others all about your experiences with your friend based solely on your personal, subjective perception. The friend meanwhile, never really gets known on her own terms and the people meeting her don’t really have a true sense of the kind of relationship they might have with her.
When I understand the process a crystal went through to get from its seed to my hand and all of the elements included and its sacred geometry and more – my intuitive experience with that crystal is much more heightened, grounded, and most importantly – Heart centered. (There are no egoic hopes and dreams hanging in the balance, getting in the way of my healing work).
When I was new to self-healing and crystals as allies, I glommed onto anything that promised a quick healing/awakening or an amped up experience of any kind. I was eager to grow and expand my awareness. I was a sponge and I soaked up EVERYTHING I read or was told about each crystal and I was so anxious to evolve that I didn’t question where this “information” was coming from. I didn’t yet realize that healing and evolution is almost always a process – a meandering journey – with no quick fix. I also was still under the illusion that I could be “fixed” by someone else/something else outside of me. I wasn’t taking responsibility for my healing. So of course I read the books that told me what crystal to use for which issue presenting! Which brings me to number 2:
My personal concern about this marketing method is that it may take advantage of people who have not yet honed their discernment skills. Discernment – the ability to judge well – is so important and is something learned over time as we get more familiar with our Selves and our Hearts. The more honed a person’s discernment skills, the less flitting and fluttering, the less grasping about there is; the more grounded a person’s experience will be with deeper, lasting healing taking place.
Discernment is about being able to recognize when something is truly resonating with your Heart or when something is feeding an aspect of your ego. It’s about being able to recognize when I am trying to take the easy way to healing which is a short road full of disappointment and confusion. It’s like those weight loss ads – “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days with this new fad diet!” We all know that for most, generally speaking, losing weight in any real, lasting way requires a well balanced diet of limited caloric intake and a consistent exercise schedule; in other words – it takes work, much like lasting personal growth and healing.
And three – it places crystals in the role of quick-fix servants. They aren’t our toys – being used to play out a scene. They are the teachers. We don’t tell them what they do – they show/tell us how to work with them for the highest good. Remember when you were first drawn to crystals and realized they had the capacity to help you evolve? Wasn’t there wonderment? For me, it was an understanding that there was something here to uncover in/about me; there was no urge to categorize or figure out what this object was going to “do for or to me.” As I began exploring, I learned to see crystals as quick-fix, one-size-fits-all tools from various sources within the community. I had to unlearn that in order to find the wonderment (and respect) again.
This article isn’t to suggest that all trademarked crystals and purchases of trademarked stones is bad or wrong. This article is about being aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it. There are some instances when trademark names are informative. When we hear, for example, Auralite 23 or Aurora Quartz, we automatically know, oh, that crystal is amethyst from that specific mine in Canada or, oh that is quartz from India. So yes, I have an Auralite 23 and some Aurora Quartz. But I also know that Auralite 23 is Amethyst with inclusions and that Aurora Quartz is quartz often found as plates of small points, having an iridescence. I know the price reflects availability and not an experience.
Fair questions any consumer might ask:
- Am I buying into hype? Have I considered working with this stone from my Heart Space or is my brainbox and Solar Plexus on overdrive right now?
- Am I drawn to this crystal because of someone else’s experience, hoping to bypass important self inquiry?
- Am I expecting this crystal to provide a quick-fix in my healing journey?
- Does the seller freely give important information like mineralogical name, chemical composition, and crystal system? (Which can also inform us of important safety information like toxicity).
- Does this energy exchange feel empowering or does it feel like I am relying on someone else or something else?
- Does this exchange increase my feelings of dependence on the seller?
- Is there a mark-up that is not in line with current market value? Why?
Have questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Remember that I don’t identify crystals and stones through photographs, but I’m happy to answer any question related to the above.